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GO OUTSIDE!

Published: Wednesday, March 01, 2017    



BY YARA BORAIE, SANA PANJWANI AND AFRAH RATHORE


WHILE THE UAE WEATHER IS STILL NICE AND BREEZY, FORGET THE SHOPPING MALLS AND DO SOMETHING FUN OUTDOORS INSTEAD. HERE ARE OL'S TOP 20 SUGGESTIONS...

The weather in this country at the start of 2017 has been rather up and down – including a few drifts of snow! But we all know it won’t be long before the temperatures start to soar, so why not make the most of the great outdoors while there are still cooling breezes to be enjoyed.

For our cover story, OL has scoured the emirates for some fantastic activities to try out – and perhaps help you get a little ftter along the way. Don’t forget to post some pics on our Facebook page showing us what you got up to.

AL AIN

OUTDOOR YOGA SESSIONS, VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Unwind from the stresses of daily life by joining in on yoga sessions held outdoors among the beauty and tranquillity of nature. Yoga Oasis UAE, a grassroots movement, offers a variety of relaxing classes throughout Al Ain at venues including Wadi Park, House of Arts, and New Sarooj
Cost: Dh45 for a drop-in class; Dh350 for a 10-class pass
Expert tip: "Outdoor yoga creates total harmony between the body and mind as all your senses are engaged with nature," said Nia Sadek, a certifed GX and yoga instructor with Fitness First.
Find out more: Email yogaoasisalain@gmail.com or check out their Facebook for a full schedule: @yogaoasisuae

FRIDAY MARKET, SOUQ AL QATTARA

Set in the heart of Al Ain, alongside the historic Al Qattara Fort and the creative hub of Al Qattara Arts Centre, this open-air marketplace comes to life every Thursday, Friday and Saturday – with Friday being the busiest. The Souq is home to several setups selling locally handmade traditional handicrafts including antiques, trinkets, and falconry equipment. You can also learn how to make pottery and weave sadu by joining in on the various workshops given by Emirati artisans and Bedouin women on-site each morning
Cost: Free
Find out more: visitabudhabi.ae

AMUSEMENT PARK, HILI FUN CITY

This decades-old park is a popular attraction for families and features a host of different activities for kids and adults alike, with rides ranging from whip-speed vertical swings to milder ones like boat peddling. A number of cafés and restaurants are also located in the park offering traditional carnival snacks like cotton candy and popcorn – everything you need for a fun day out
Cost: On Mondays and Tuesdays tickets cost Dh30, and from Wednesdays to Saturdays the price is Dh60; free entry for children below 36 inches in height
Find out more: hilifuncity.ae or call 03 784 5542 WATERSPORTS, WADI ADVENTURE

The changing season brings with it the expected bipolar weather patterns meaning that some March days will be a tad warmer than any of us would like. On those days, why not head down to Wadi Adventure for a day of splashing fun? The manmade water sports park is the frst of its kind in the UAE and offers a plethora of activities including surfng, rafting, kayaking and wake parking
Cost: Entrance from Dh50 for adults and Dh25 for children under 1.2m in height
Find out more: wadiadventure.ae or call 03 781 8422

AFRICAN SAFARI, AL AIN ZOO

The largest manmade safari in the world, the area of the African Safari at Al Ain Zoo spans more than 217 hectares and is home to a plethora of flora and fauna consisting of 38 different local and African plants, as well as over 200 animals including: giraffes, zebras, rhinos, oryx, impalas, gazelles, and lions – all placed in environments closely resembling their natural habitats. A safari tour of these grounds takes around 45 to 60 minutes and can either be enjoyed in a truck or a private SUV vehicle capable of seating a maximum of six people, with plenty of photo opportunities available
Cost: Ticket prices range from Dh200 to Dh1,150 dependent on the package chosen and need to be booked in advance by calling 800 966
Find out more: alainzoo.ae

CAMPING, VARIOUS LOCATIONS

There is no better way to clear one’s mind than escaping the everyday hustle and bustle of the city and connecting with nature by camping. The weather has fnally settled down enough for these outdoor excursions and Al Ain’s serene desert is ideal as it’s neither so cold that you’re freezing your knuckles off, or too hot for you to be sweating to death. The dunes in the Garden City are also a hit spot for off-roading fun among camping enthusiasts, and if you’re lucky enough, you will get to experience breath-taking starry nights
Expert tip: “It’s easy to get stuck in the sand so bring a tow rope, a shovel, and consider buying a small pressure gauge (available in Daiso) and an electric tyre pump to be fully prepared for the unexpected,” said Chris Payne, an avid camper and founder of alainenthusiast.com
Cost: Free to do if you already have the gear CRICKET, AESGC

If you're more comfortable with a sport that involves running on your own two feet, then head next door to the Cricket Club which runs under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council and Chairman of AESGC. The club, along with friendly matches, offers an extensive coaching programme open to ages fve and above where participants are taught everything from cricket laws to umpiring signals – all under the watchful eye of the club's qualifed coaches
Cost: Dh50 per session
Find out more: aesgc.com or call 03 702 6469

GOLF, AESGC

March is one of the best months to give golf a go for the frst time – or sharpen your game – with the pleasant breeze and tranquil rolls of the greens guaranteed to create a memorable experience. AESGC's Golf Club not only offers lessons (mixed and ladies only) but also holds regular matches including ProAms and Schools Leagues for those more interested in spectating
Cost: From Dh60 for adults; Dh40 for juniors
Expert tip: "Take lessons from a professional as you are starting out to get a good understanding of the basics of the game which will make a huge difference as you move forward and progress," said Gavin Chappell, Golf Manager at AESGC.

Find out more: aesgc.com or call 03 702 6400

CLIMBING, AESGC

Give your body a full workout by heading over to The Wall at AESGC. There are four 11x6m walls and routes present including an IFSC 10m World Cup speed route. And whether you're an experienced or budding climber, all newcomers must attend an introductory course to learn the proper techniques and gear to be used. It's a thrill to know that climbers will be following the footsteps of former Ukranian World Champion speed climber, Maksym Stienkovyi, who designed the speed wall, overhangs, and lead routes
Cost: From Dh35
Find out more: aesgc.com or call 03 702 6437

HORSEBACK RIDING, AESGC
Horses are a huge part of UAE culture, meaning that every emirate is home to at least one equine facility where people can learn to ride. AESGC boasts its very own Equestrian Club which has become the heart of the equestrian activity in Al Ain, with many national and international competitions taking place there. Students of all ages are welcome in the classes and for those who are not a fan of riding there are plenty of spectator events hosted throughout the year to attend
Cost: Dh150 for ages 11 and older, 30-minute session
Find out more: aesgc.com or call 03 702 6405

ABU DHABI

KARTING, YAS MARINA

You don't need to be a professional to enjoy go-karting, especially on Yas Island where beginners can easily conquer the 800m track before they know it. The Yas KartZone Lap Tracking System is also in place to help chart your performance to help you shave the seconds off, and come one step closer to being a serious contender
Cost: From Dh110 per adult; Dh55 per child
Find out more: yasmarinacircuit.com

DIVING, AL MAHARA CENTRE

With 71 per cent of the Earth's surface covered in water, you cannot call yourself a world traveller unless you have been diving at least once. And while the world's most renowned diving spots – Barracuda Point in Malaysia or the Great Blue Hole in Belize – are not at your doorstep, Abu Dhabi's vibrant diving scene is. At just a twohour drive lies Al Mahara Diving Centre where a passionate team of expert and sea adventurers are available on-site to help you explore the reefs and wrecks of the capital city
Cost: From Dh575
Find out more: divemahara.com

ARCHERY, AL GHAZAL GOLF CLUB

Therapists swear by archery as a form of stress relief – and who are we to argue. The Abu Dhabi Archer (ADA) archery range in Al Ghazal Golf Club is home to the locale archery community and is dedicated to spreading the joy of the sport. The club offers try-out sessions, courses, memberships, and also group reservations for friends and family. It runs a mentoring programme as well for ages eight and above
Cost: From Dh90
Find out more: abudhabiarchery.com or call 050 721 32 30

KITESURFING, VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Kitesurfng is a water sport that really anyone can do, but not so easy that you get to learn it independently without an experienced instructor’s guidance. Also, the wind needs to be strong enough to propel you across the water surface. After you make sure that you’re safely strapped in a harness on a surfboard, it’s all a matter of getting used to the technique rather than fretting over your strength. Kitepro Abu Dhabi, a mobile kitesurfng school, is authorised to access Yas Island and Al Dabayyah and their instructors will take you for a lesson to the best spot depending on the weather condition and the shallowness of the waters that day
Cost: From Dh350 per session
Find out more: kitepro.ae

OTHER PLACES

SKYDIVING, SKYDIVE DUBAI

If you're into extreme sports, then jumping out of an airplane might be right up your alley. Located at just an hour's drive from Al Ain, Skydive Dubai offers a number of packages for all, starting from beginners to experts, and also offers classes to help you learn how to dive solo. Those who would just like to dive once for the thrill can sign up for the tandem jump where a world-class instructor strapped to your back comes with the package
Cost: Starting from Dh1,999
Find out more: skydivedubai.ae

GEOCACHING, UAE-WIDE

A real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices, geocaching has spread all over the world with over 2.5 million caches (containers) hidden. Players must navigate to a specifc set of coordinates and then attempt to fnd the hidden geocache in that location, which can vary in size from large to micro. Geocaches always contain logbooks to note down your fnd and can even include knick knacks for exchanging. To play, all you have to do is sign up on the geocaching website or on their app, plug in the name of your city and watch as scores of caches pop up on your local map
Cost: Free
Expert tip: “BYOP (bring your own pen) to sign your name because caches come in all shapes and sizes with the micro ones barely having enough space for a rolled up logbook," said Paige Edmiston, avid geocacher and Marketing Specialist at Geocaching HQ
Find out more: geocaching.com

HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE, DUBAI

Take advantage of the clear, blue March skies by hopping into a hot air balloon and marvelling at a picturesque panorama of Dubai's desert landscape. Balloon Adventures Emirates in Dubai offers an hour-long air ride followed by a drive to a Bedouin camp in a ffties vintage Land Rover for a gourmet breakfast spread
Cost: Dh1,100 for adult, Dh950 for children
Find out more: ballooning.ae

SIGHTSEEING, JEBEL JAIS, RAS AL KHAIMAH

The tallest mountain in the UAE, Jebel Jais is a popular goto spot all year for people who enjoy gorgeous panoramic views of Ras Al Khaimah. The spot is also frequently visited by campers who stay the night to enjoy the cool microclimate, top breezes and uninterrupted visions of the starry night. The drive from Al Ain takes around four hours but is well worth the view from the top
Cost: Free

WE'VE HIDDEN OUR OWN GEOCACHE SO THE NEXT TIME YOU'RE ON YOUR WAY UP TO JEBEL HAFEET LOOK UP THE CODE GC6G8GB ON THE GEOCACHING WEBSITE AND TRY YOUR LUCK
 
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